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BWW Review: PARSONS DANCE COMPANY'S POWERFUL REPERTOIRE AND PERFORMANCE PAYS OFF at Segerstrom Center For The Arts

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Parsons Dance Performs for One Night Only

BWW Review: PARSONS DANCE COMPANY'S POWERFUL REPERTOIRE AND PERFORMANCE PAYS OFF  at Segerstrom Center For The Arts

Artistic Director and Choreographer David Parsons himself introduced the single performance evening at The Segerstrom to a thirsty audience, eager to see the dance company that had been lauded in advance at the beginning of this year's season and of course the much awaited return to live performances and audiences. He gave us a revised rundown of the pieces that were to be performed that night. He is very personable, relatable and captivating as he explains their endeavors, processes and the added hardships Covid placed on the company. The dancers, over the past year-and-a-half were in seven separate "bubbles" to be able to work on and perfect the choreography. We learned after the performance, in a short Q & A with the dancers and David, that some of the dancers had only been with the company a few months! Their repertoire is quite extensive and precise with many lifts and lots of technique; not an easy feat! And not easy on the feet!

They did not disappoint!

A very flowing and fun Brazilian-flavored opening piece, "Nascimento," with music composed by Milton Nascimento, and a gift from him to Parsons Dance, was performed just beautifully by Zoey Anderson, Deidre Rogan, Henry Steele, DaMond LeMonte Garner, Croix Dilenno, Rachel Harris, Megan Garcia, and Eoghan Dillon; choreography by David Parsons.

On a bare stage with a burnt orange scrim background, two dancers, the masterful Zoey Anderson and the amazing Croix Dilenno begin a tete-a-tete of sorts, a flirtatious partnering, with vocals and fierce upbeat guitar strains playing. The other dancers join in, and fill the air as they show off their strong ballet technique, with tours en l'air, and many consecutive, very controlled and measured pirouettes, performed sporadically within the number by different dancers. They partnered up or formed a circle, trading off within couples, or becoming a trio, dressed in various pastel colors, the scrim changing color to offset the colors worn by the dancers. It felt like a love fest of sorts, a happy gathering of people celebrating being alive, being able to be close to others and share again. The meaning of nascimento is "to be born," or "birth," and there was a freshness and aliveness to the dancing and energy that was felt.

A standout throughout the performance was Zoey Anderson. Your eye is drawn to her clean, sharp, meticulous lines and execution. The added fact that David Parson's choreography has so much musicality in it's movements, makes her capability more obvious. Several times she rapidly multi-pirouetted while doing slower head rolls coming out of them, perfectly aligned, smooth and graceful, then battemented out of it, still keeping the line flowing.

The third section's music was a bit like a Bobby McFerrin composition, with a Caribbean feel, ripe with syncopated conga drums and a samba rhythm that was enthusiastic and uplifting. The dancers stepped it up a notch, pulling off some tricky lifts, wonderful recurring leaps across stage into the arms of another, triple turns, ending in a la seconde, a tricky move, and multiple pirouettes. BWW Review: PARSONS DANCE COMPANY'S POWERFUL REPERTOIRE AND PERFORMANCE PAYS OFF  at Segerstrom Center For The Arts

There were three sections to this piece, and throughout, the lighting kept changing to frame and highlight the pastel costumes, as the dancers would whisk by, either doing a ballet combination pass across the floor, leaping and sometimes quadruple pirouetting, clumping tightly center stage and then bursting out in slow motion like out of a birthday cake. Excellent, enhancing lighting by the late, very talented Howell Binkley, and beautiful costuming originally created by Santo Loquaso, recreated by Barbara Erin Delo. The colors and pairings of the costumes gave a beautiful hue when blended together with the lighting. The company will be celebrating Mr. Binkley, an original co-founder of Parsons Dance, during their performance December 5th at the Joyce Theatre in New York.

The second piece, "Balance of Power" was a compact choreographic tightly-knitted puzzle of movement and counterpoise. The curtain opened on Croix Dilenno, center stage in a solo spot, frozen; balancing in a headstand, for quite a while. With much control, he slowly moves through varying poses, dazzling us with his equilibrium and flexibility, all while deliciously teasing the audience with his personality and attitude. The music, composed by Giancarlo De Trizio was exuberant, especially a section with just drum beats and Dilenno's sultry movements in a combination that included wonderful floor work, intriguing isolations and jazz port de bras, hitting all the accents, yet smoothly transitioning out. Extremely well done, executed by a multi-faceted performer and choreographed by David Parsons. Lighting by Christopher S. Chambers, and Costuming by Barbara De Trizio.

Miles Davis' laid back classic "So What?" was the accompaniment for another choreographic triumph for Mr. Parsons. Entitled "Kind of Blue," it captured all the jazz elements, the groove and the hipness as well as provided some superb technical performances. The eight dancers, barefoot and dressed all in black, were Zoey Anderson, Deidre Rogan, Henry Steele, DaMond LeMonte Garner, Croix Dilenno, Rachel Harris, Megan Garcia and Eoghan Dillon. The scrim behind was also all black, and the dancers grooved to a jazzy walking bass line, Henry Steele adding acrobatic feats, and a screaming trumpet melody, hitting the accents to all the licks with isolated parts of the body - just fabulous.

BWW Review: PARSONS DANCE COMPANY'S POWERFUL REPERTOIRE AND PERFORMANCE PAYS OFF  at Segerstrom Center For The Arts After intermission was the premiere of a work-in-progress "Past Tense." To the classical composition by Pietro Locatelli, the dancers displayed their virtuosity and deftly blended Matthew Neenan's more modern choreography with the more structured exactness apparent in the music. The level of such pristine and intricately melodic choreography and the performance of, is hard to top. Each section was danced either in a trio, a solo or a sensuous duet, and had it's own flavor; one duet done to no music at all, and all filled with vivacious and powerful flowing energy and expertise. The excellent dancers were Zoey Anderson, Deidre Rogan, Henry Steele, Damond LeMonte Garner, Croix Dilenno, Rachel Harris, and Megan Garcia. The costumes were designed by Christine Darch and the lighting was by Christopher S. Chambers.

BWW Review: PARSONS DANCE COMPANY'S POWERFUL REPERTOIRE AND PERFORMANCE PAYS OFF  at Segerstrom Center For The Arts "Caught," was breathtaking. It is part of the active repertory for the company, and like the title, it consists of strobe lights, timed to capture a dancer's movement, seemingly making them freeze or slow down mid-air while they are actually moving rapidly and never stopping. A brilliant and captivating idea and the ideal dancer to do this demanding solo was Zoe Anderson.

She was glistening in white and so precisely hit her lines timed with the spots, strobes and music, at times it seemed there was magic afoot. Her many leaps, grand jetes and flying splits were stunning and oh, so clean when hit at their peaks by the strobe. David Parsons not only Choreographed this piece, but also developed the concept for the Lighting, The Design for Lighting was done by Howell Binkley, Music by Roberrt Fripp, "Let The Power Fall," and Costume Design by Judy Wirkula.

The last and most joyous ending piece, Earth, Wind & Fire's "Shining Star," choreographed by David Parsons, had the entire audience so enthralled, they were clapping madly and standing well before the end of the number, moving to the music in front of their seats. The music so infectious, you just can't help yourself.

Opening with a simulated EWF's Stage Lighting Design when the downbeat begins, we were immediately transported to a fun and uplifting happening. The dancers thoroughly immersed themselves in the funkiness of the beat while performing stunning lifts, all very controlled and technically proficient, and just plain dazzling us with their abilities. The partnerwork highlighted in this number was superb, and again, the musicality of the choreography perfectly embodied the sounds, rhythms and beats. BWW Review: PARSONS DANCE COMPANY'S POWERFUL REPERTOIRE AND PERFORMANCE PAYS OFF  at Segerstrom Center For The Arts

The choreography was well displayed by these terrific dancers. The blending of balletic positions and steps with more modern port de bras and sometimes a flexed foot where you might not expect it was particularly pleasing to watch.

The choice of musical selections was one of the keys to matching the creative overview of the arc of Parson's body of work.

The evening was full of a wonderful display of artistry, and thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Please go to https://www.parsonsdance.org to learn more about this exciting dance company, and their upcoming appearances.

Thank you to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts for bringing such wonderful dance presentations to Los Angeles this year. Looking forward to seeing more wonderful productions in the near future. Please check out: https://www.scfta.org/ for more information.

Photos courtesy of Lois Greenfield and Parson's Dance.


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